Concord Man Recalls His Role in John F. Kennedy's Funeral
Concord, VA - Richard Metz now lives in Concord, but back in November of 1963, he was a young state trooper stationed in Arlington. He has very vivid memories of this point in history.
Metz was at a doctor's appointment when he heard the news the president had been shot.
"Everybody was pretty well glued to the events because initially it just came out that he was shot and it was some time before they acknowledged that he had actually been killed," recalls Metz.
Metz was just 23 years old at the time, a trooper for two years, and one of the youngest troopers they had ever hired at that time.
"It was certainly a traumatic event to see him killed and another person sworn in and his wife standing there in a blood stained suit. It was just... hard to imagine this."
Hard to imagine, and unclear yet exactly who was involved and what was happening. Metz awaited his assignment.
"Well we knew if there was something more sinister going on being in law enforcement especially in northern Virginia, Washington, that we would be in a high state of readiness."
Metz felt a connection to the president, and the whole Kennedy family. He had worked many events involving him, and brother Bobby. The assassination hit him hard, and he joined the entire country in mourning.
Metz and his partner made an unauthorized trip to see Kennedy lying in state.
"We just drove on over and being in uniform, DC police let us in and we didn't have to stand in lines. There were monumental lines even at midnight."
Being in Northern Virginia, Metz was used to working all kinds of high profile events. But in his young career, he had seen nothing to this magnitude.
"They needed they wanted the entire route lined with law enforcement so our supervisors told us the day before that we would have to be at the cemetery."
Metz and fellow officers were spaced out in intervals along the curb line. He was posted fairly close to the entrance to Arlington National Cemetery. That's when a woman behind him snapped a picture of the President's coffin as the procession passed by, capturing a saluting Metz in the frame. Metz recalls how he was feeling at that moment.
"It was pretty emotional. Here you are standing watching a slain president come by in a casket and it was pretty hard to get it all together for a while. I mean it was just a lot happening."
It is definitely not the most famous salute that day, but for Richard Metz, the picture is a treasure he has cherished for 50 years.
"It was a random photo that has turned out to be pretty valuable now to me."
Metz was also on duty at Robert Kennedy's house for his wake in 1968, and has many memories of that event as well. Metz left state police and became a Federal Postal investigator. He moved to Concord in retirement to be closer to family.